Recollections of My Life and Reflections on Times and Events During It: A Memoir by Father W. J. Howlett

Page 92

tion of Catholics, at which I was present as an onlooker. Upon my return to my parish in Central City, Colorado, I organized a branch of the society, and the following year had enough branches to organize a state council. For many years I was the state representative to the Supreme Councils, and on some of these occasions I had an opportunity to visit Kentucky. It was not, however, until 1905 that I availed myself of one of these opportunities to visit the site of old St. Thomas. It was my first visit since my seminary days, and it was a saddening visit. The grounds were there, the church was there, the log residence of Bishop Flaget was there, but not a sign of the seminary buildings remained except the excavation where our basement refectory was, and a tree a foot in diameter was growing from the middle of this. The grounds were strewn with fallen trees, the church was in bad repair, and the whole had a dilapidated and neglected appearance. I wrote a letter on the condition of the grounds, and the Bishop of Louisville took the matter in hand and had the church repaired and the grounds cleaned up. It also aroused the priests of Western Kentucky to an appreciation of the fact that they had a great history and many sacred traditions worthy of preservation. I received letters (published) asking me to continue my letters and to extend them beyond the ruins of St. Thomas. With promises of help from many of them I began my book which was published the next year. Let me counsel others who contemplate writing a book, not to depend too much on promises of assistance from others. Even those most liberal with their promises are liable to refer you to so-and-so who again will refer you to other so-and-sos for information. Have your subject substantially conceived in embryo, and it will take shape and be born as your own child.

          Still, I must give credit for help to the Rev. James Ryan, Eugene Crane, Edwin Drury, William Hogarty, John Abell, Michael Melody, and Engelbert Bachmann, and to Bishop Tierney and Msgr. Murray for special encouragement.

          These remarks have led me ahead of my narrative for, in 1903, Boship Matz took me from the little home in Colorado City and transferred me to St. Ignatius in Pueblo. This was the scene of my labors thirteen years before, but the building of a pastoral residence had put it again in debt, and the present pastor was unable to cope with the conditions. It was not an easy place, but things righted themselves and the debt disappeared and the church given a needed renovation with improvements.
          When the History of St. Thomas was published, or as Bishop Matz said; “This bantam was hatched,” he asked me to continue with the life of his saintly predecessor, Bishop Machebeuf. This volume was published in 1908, and all unsold copies of it, as well as those of the history of St. Thomas, are now at St. Thomas Seminary in Denver. From the life of Bishop Machebeuf, Cather says she got her inspiration for her novel, “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” but anyone who reads the two volumes will know that she got far more than an inspiration.

          The clearing of the debt of St. Ignatius did not end the need of improvements there. As a new church was necessary, for the old one was but a temporary structure from the beginning and had served its time, I did not contemplate this work with any sort of delight. I was not as young as formerly, and money raising had grown tedius and distaste-

View Original Here

This page has paths: